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Waitaki holiday-makers urged to oppose Aqua

Waitaki holiday-makers urged to oppose Aqua

Green Party Co-Leader, Jeanette Fitzsimons is challenging holiday-makers in the Waitaki region to consider what Meridian Energy's plans for the river will mean for the region and for New Zealand.

"Several years from now, if Project Aqua goes through, this typical kiwi holiday destination will be largely deserted - the river diverted into a gigantic canal dominating the scene, the best fishing spots dry, the largest braided river in this country reduced to a trickle," Ms Fitzsimons said.

"Today on the Waitaki, salmon fishers cast lines into clean-running streams, dozens of campers pitch tents on secluded riverbanks beneath willows, and trampers will stroll near a unique braided river.

"The Kurow, South Kaik and Glenavy Camps today hold court to many families from around the country and region who have gathered to enjoy the holiday period in a tranquil, natural setting.

"All consider themselves fortunate to catch a glimpse of the increasingly endangered dotterel, black stilt and black fronted terns which make their home in the shingle banks between the river braids.

"To lose all this just because power savings achieved over this winter cannot be sustained would be criminal."

Ms Fitzsimons challenged every visitor from Auckland, Wellington and other places north to take home the message that this is not just a South Island issue.

"This is the new Manapouri, which so angered New Zealanders in the seventies; the new Clyde dam, which so angered them in the eighties.

"On current population and electricity demand estimates, by the time Aqua is fully on-line in 2011 demand for electricity will already have grown by more than Aqua can deliver - meaning another Aqua will be needed and another piece of New Zealand's unique environment will be dumped through our power sockets."

Ms Fitzsimons pointed out that Project Aqua would deliver little or nothing in the worst dry winter crises.

"The only practical, long-term solutions to our energy problems, without substantially changing our lifestyle, are using energy more wisely and investing in truly renewable sources of energy.

"Aqua will cost $1.2 billion, money that would be far better spent on energy efficiency and alternate sources of power such as wind, solar heating and wood waste.

"Will it take dams being built in the backyards of North Islanders, where most of the votes are, for the Government to realise we don't want to squander our best holiday places on stop-gap power generation, just to heat our towel rails 24 hours a day?"

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